Barwell Motorsport’s Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen became the first crew to win two British GT3 Championship races on the same weekend since 2010* at Snetterton Sunday afternoon, extending their points lead in the process, thanks to a faultless performance in the second of the day’s one-hour contests.
Meanwhile, the GT4 class drivers’ title will also go down to the wire at Donington Park next month after Beechdean AMR’s Jack Bartholomew and Ross Gunn claimed victory to close the gap on Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson, who finished second.
GT3 Race 2: Perfect performance keeps Keen and Minshaw on top
Minshaw and Keen picked up their second win of the day by four seconds from TF Sport’s Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam after overcoming a 10-second success penalty in the pits for winning the day’s opening race.
Keen’s pole lap offered them a chance to limit the damage at the start, and he duly obliged by maintaining the lead into Turn 1. Meanwhile Adam, who lost the championship lead for the first time this season after race one, gave chase but couldn’t dislodge the Huracan over the course of the opening stint as the pair traded fastest laps.
The sister Barwell Lamborghini driven by Alexander Sims didn’t quite have the pace of the top two, while Joe Osborne also dropped back to fifth behind Jon Barnes after jumping ahead of the TF Sport Aston early on.
Sims, who like Adam had no success penalty to serve, was the first of the leaders to stop but fell out of contention soon after when co-driver Liam Griffin retired the Lamborghini with a damaged front wishbone. That should have made TF Sport’s life a little easier over the final stint but that was without reckoning on a tangled seatbelt, which essentially cost Johnston the lead.
Not that it concerned Barwell, whose slick pit-stop helped Minshaw emerge three seconds clear of Lee Mowle, who’d taken over from Osborne, and the delayed Johnston.
Although the gap between the top-two remained fairly constant for most of the stint, Minshaw was able to ease away from Mowle over the final third as the BMW slipped into Johnston’s clutches. And, in what could be crucial to this year’s title race, the Aston Martin eventually found a way past to limit the damage in the drivers’ standings.
Barnes’ co-driver Farmer brought the second TF Sport Aston home fourth after their seven-second success penalty for finishing second in race one restricted their chances. The result also means the pair have missed a chance to fight for the title at Donington by just half a point.
However, Team Parker Racing’s Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris added fifth to their opening race podium to remain the third and final crew in title contention. Parfitt Jnr spent the first half of his stint harrying Farmer for fourth before eventually finishing two seconds behind the Aston, while Ian Stinton picked up the Blancpain Gentleman Driver of the Weekend Award for taking the Tolman Motorsport Ginetta he shared with Mike Simpson to sixth overall.
Phil Dryburgh and Ross Wylie were the last of the GT3 finishers in seventh.
As well as taking the GT3 points lead, Keen left Snetterton with his second Sunoco Fastest Lap of the Race Award of the season after recording a new British GT3 best of 1m48.579s in his battle with Adam.
And Tolman Motorsport can be proud of their hard work after picking up the PMW Expo Team of the Weekend prize for rebuilding the #56 Ginetta G55 in time for qualifying after it suffered substantial damage in first practice.
Jon Minshaw, #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3: “I came here hoping to have a great first race after working hard on my qualifying, which obviously went well and allowed us to fight at the front in race one. But what I didn’t expect was to win the second, which I have to say was down to the team and Phil. We came in knowing we had the 10 seconds to serve and nailed it. Ok, we were a bit lucky with Derek being delayed but everyone still had to do their jobs.”
Derek Johnston, #17 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3: “It doesn’t feel good, to be honest. We’ve had some issues this weekend and would have left the pits leading race two had the seatbelt not got tangled up. We just panicked a bit and lost too much time. Then it was hard work following and trying to pass Lee. I maintained the pressure hoping for him to make a mistake or run wide, which he did. It’s just a pity we weren’t a bit closer to Jon. But the pit-stop cost us victory today. At least there are still plenty of points on offer at Donington.”
8.5 points behind before the weekend, Minshaw and Keen leave Snetterton with an 11.5-point advantage over Johnston and Adam who had been top since the opening round at Brands Hatch. Parfitt Jnr and Morris are the only other crew who can now win the crown, although they’ll need to overturn a 27.5-point deficit.
The teams’ title will also go down to the wire with TF Sport leading reigning champions Barwell by 14.5 points.
GT4 Race 2: Beechdean AMR’s Bartholomew and Gunn win to set up title showdown
Beechdean AMR’s Jack Bartholomew won his second British GT4 race of the season, and co-driver Ross Gunn his first since Silverstone last year, to close in on championship leaders Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson, who finished second in class.
The PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport crew could have won the title this weekend but instead leave Snetterton with their advantage cut from 17.5 to just 2.5 points ahead of the title decider at Donington Park next month.
Meanwhile, Alex Reed and Joey Foster overturned a drive-through penalty to finish third in their Lanan Racing Ginetta.
Beechdean AMR’s victory came despite the best efforts of Matthew George who refused to let reigning class champion Gunn escape over the opening stint. Split qualifying had allowed the Generation AMR SuperRacing driver a chance to shine, and he duly obliged by remaining within a second - and setting a new GT4 lap record in the process (1m58.704s) - before the pit-stops.
His co-driver James Holder slipped back thereafter, leaving Bartholomew to reel off an untroubled final stint en route to his first victory since Rockingham.
Behind, Johnson and Robinson’s lack of a success penalty helped them limit the damage to their championship lead by finishing second. It sets up an enthralling encounter at Donington Park in September when their main rival Bartholomew must remain stationary for five seconds longer during his mandatory driver change.
The podium was completed by Foster and Reed who started third and pitted earlier than their rivals to avoid congestion. However, a subsequent drive-through penalty for being under their minimum time gave Reed plenty of work to do during his stint. But yesterday’s race one pole winner delivered to give the crew their second British GT podium in three outings and elevate them to third in the class standings.
A stunning recovery drive from race one winners Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy Mitchell helped them overcome an unscheduled early pit-stop with bodywork damage to bring the Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 570S home fourth. Contact between Haggerty and a Ginetta on the formation lap almost ended their race before it had even started, before fine performances from both secured an unlikely result.
Marcus Hoggarth and Abbie Eaton were another pairing to salvage a good result after climbing from 11th to finish fifth in their Ebor GT Maserati, while assured stints from both Paul Hollywood and Jamie Chadwick - returning to the scene of her GT4 title triumph 12 months ago - helped the second Beechdean AMR Aston Martin complete the top-six.
A heavily damaged RCIB Insurance Racing Ginetta driven by Jordan Stilp and William Phillips took seventh ahead of Ade Barwick and Bradley Ellis’ Simpson Motorsport-run G55, while Kieran Griffin and Jake Giddings, and Sean Byrne and Aleksander Schjerpen completed the top-10.
Jack Bartholomew, #407 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4: “It’s amazing to win again, especially as we’ve still got a few issues to iron out before Donington. I didn’t have the qualifying I wanted for race one but I’m glad we were able to make the best of it in the races. Ross has been a great help in coaching and bringing me on, so a big thanks to him and everyone at Beechdean AMR for continuing to plug away and get the result we needed.”
Graham Johnson, #50 PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4: “This weekend was about damage limitation for us because the Ginetta simply wasn’t fast enough in a straight line. Had it been I think this would have been a different story because we had good speed. Mike and I were consistently the fastest G55 runners all weekend but it was very difficult to race the Astons and McLaren here. It’s just not a Ginetta circuit.”
The 2016 British GT Championship titles will be decided at Donington Park on September 10/11.
*David Ashburn and Glynn Geddie were the last crew to win two British GT3 races on the same weekend. The pair’s Trackspeed Porsche took both victories at Rockingham in 2010.